MAX KAPLAN AND THE MAGICS: Mind On My Heart (Color Red)

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Max Kaplan is a native New Yorker but his heart and soul are deep down in Memphis.   Mind you, if you’re familiar with his music you’d know that! He’s infatuated with the classic soul sounds of the South – sounds he was introduced to by his music-loving, guitar playing dad and those sounds prompted young Max to decamp to Tennessee. He says: “My dad is a guitar player and he taught me. And, yes, that’s what he’s known his whole life. When I got to Memphis I was exposed to soul music, which is very much an evolved form of the blues. The blues kind of came to Memphis, met jazz and other such forms of music, and became soul. Soul music really is the key to all of American pop music. It shaped what we’ve got going in America here musically now. That’s my favourite stuff to listen to. So, when I write songs I’m always thinking, ‘Well, I love old soul music, but I want to make something new. I can’t just be copying old stuff.’ What we’re trying to do is basically the same thing every artist does; take our influences and put our voice into it.”

The two singles which Max has released prior to the issue of this long player bear out those words. First we enjoyed ‘Loving I’m Leaving’ – gentle but soulful tune that has its roots deep in Memphis’ rich heritage (think Al Green’s version of ‘How Can You Mend a Broken’); then came a cover of Ann Peebles’s ’99 Pounds’. Co-written with her husband Don Bryant, Ann’s version  first appeared on her 1971 Hi album  ‘Straight From The Heart’ and it’s long been a Max Kaplan favourite – indeed a centrepiece to his live shows.

Both ‘Loving I’m Leaving’ and ’99 Pounds’ feature on the album  and the set’s remaining six tracks proffer the same retro flavours. ‘What Kind Of Fool’ takes the honours, though ‘She’s Cryin’’, ‘Born To Love You’, ‘Mind On My Heart’ and  ‘What Kind Of Fool’ all have plenty to offer too. The album’s big rave up is ‘Shake (All Your God Mama Gave You)’ on which Max’s band, the ultra-tight The Magics really let loose.  Soul purists may just find it a little too rocky, but those purists will have little to complain about with everything else. Kaplan clearly knows what he’s about and it’s equally  clear that he  enjoys what he’s  doing. His  enthusiasm is infectious.

(BB) 4/5